Q: My neighbor has a large, 50-year-old pecan tree in her yard. The tree bore pecans this year, but the shells were empty. Does the tree need fertilizer, or what can be done to help the tree produce fruit next year?
A: The tree’s age may be the reason the pecan shells were empty, but of course you can definitely try applying fertilizer. In late winter, purchase a fertilizer with the formula 16-4-4 or 16-6-6, or you may purchase pecan tree fertilizer spikes, with zinc, which is the element a pecan tree needs to develop fruit. The spikes are available online.
Q: I was given several canna lilies this spring and I don’t know how to store them for the winter. Can you please tell me how to go about storing them?
A: In this area, cannas do not need to be stored for the winter. Simply cut back the foliage and cover the bulbs with a layer of mulch, and the plants will return next spring.
Q: Is it too late to plant trees and shrubs now? We purchased our plants from the nursery in September, but I was sick and could not plant them at that time.
A: You may still plant shrubs and trees now, but do so before the ground freezes. After planting, mulch around the canopy area of the plants and water on a regular basis until the shrubs and trees are well established. Do not let the plants dry out completely during the establishing process.
Q: I have heard that I can dig up a geranium and save it in a bag in a closet and it will live. Is that true?
A: I have stored a geranium during the winter, but geraniums are pretty cheap and I do not find the practice worthwhile. If you intend to try, remove all the stems and foliage from the plant, shake the soil from the root system and store the root system in a paper bag in a dark closet. In the spring, repot the root system in a good potting soil, and fertilize and water well. Store the plant inside until all danger of frost has passed.
Carol (Bonnie) Link is an Etowah County Master Gardener and an experienced garden writer. Her weekly column is designed to help and encourage others in their gardening endeavors. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.